Rhetorical heterophobia

Sex on Blogday

One of the more recent video fads, “Love Is All You Need?” is a video that challenges mainstream forms of sexuality-based oppression, but with a twist: Heterosexuality is oppressed.

The video begins with the birth of the main character and travels with her through adolescence. She has two parents of the same gender, but so do all of her friends and family. Nearly everyone is homosexual, with the exception of few people, including the main character. Sexuality “norms” are reversed, and the main character comes to realize that she doesn’t fit in: She is heterosexual and abnormal.

All this too familiar to some queers like myself: The video delves into uncanny scenes depicting bullying, name-calling and pleas for acceptance. But are queer agenda issues really being portrayed?

First of all, it is important to recognize that the video portrays problematic (mis)appropriations of queer identity and unrepresentative portrayals of only white, middle-class folk. Still, it is beneficial because it puts sexuality-based oppression into a different lens — one for the oppressor to relate to. I don’t believe the target audience of the video is the queer crowd fighting for queer agenda and equality, but rather non-queers who are dubious of change.

The video implicitly advocates issues such as marriage equality and calls hatred into question. Personally, it took me a few minutes to realize what was really happening in the video, and it strikingly resembled something familiar to me, being one of those kids coming to realization. Although unfortunately extreme and dramatic, the common themes of bullying and realizing difference play out to highlight the opposers of queer agenda and their unjustified, harmful acts and sayings.

Does a world exist where heterosexuals are similarly oppressed and acting against the “norm”? No, but the video rhetorically employs oppression as such in order to highlight the questionability of sexuality-based oppression. After watching the video, I felt sick to my stomach, but to me this morbid newsflash isn’t anything new. Queer people — and many other marginalized communities — are discriminated against every day. It frustrates me that in order to emotionally portray the frustrations and struggles of the queer community to an outside audience, it is necessary to have so-called heterosexuals play the part. We have to target the oppressors by showing them being oppressed, not the victims.

Watching this video was not an easy thing to do, but something different was definitely brought to the table. I don’t feel auspicious about the video and its political agenda, just because we’ve seen it over and over and over. And not much is changing.

Year after year, I am realizing that although things are getting better, there are countless problems that marginalized communities face every day. Yes, videos such as “Love Is All You Need?” help in promoting awareness and consciousness of the problems communities like the queer ones face, however it is frustrating to me that the way people choose to do so is by relying on heterosexual privilege, those who commonly are the oppressors.

I hope not to come off as “heterophobic” or reversing oppression of any kind, but things aren’t changing fast enough and people are still feeling marginalized and discriminated against. Although “Love Is All You Need?” is a solid attempt to bring queer oppression into a different context, it only highlights the same problems we have been fighting against for years.

Contact Matthew Kirschenbaum at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @mpkirschenbaum.